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Cult | News | 25 April 2005

Hitchhiker Movie

Review: Is the film an open book?

First, the bad news. If you're a semi-evolved simian who demands that all Douglas Adams adaptations slavishly follow the book to the nth degree, there's a possibility you might not like the film version. Developed over a ten-year period, there are whole new sections to enjoy, new planets to wonder at and only the opening and closing scenes bear any relation to the radio series (which, for those who have forgotten, came first).

But what a journey! Martin Freeman faces a difficult job replacing Simon Jones, the only Arthur Dent for many of us, but he does so perfectly. We feel so much closer to Freeman's version of the character and as a consequence identify with his predicament all the more (his reaction to the wonder of Magarathean planet-building matched many of the faces in the screening I attended - an almost spiritual moment).

By the time Douglas got around to writing his later books, he'd grown to resent how popular the shallow, egotistical Zaphod Beeblebrox was. As a consequence, the film version is even more crass and heartless. There'll be purists upset at the way his second head is realised, but at least now we have an explanation for why he has two heads in the first place.

Two bits of casting have altered the interpretation of the characters for the better. In Marvin, we have Alan Rickman who takes the central depression of Stephen Moore's Marvin and adds an extra twist; not only does Marvin hate life, he hates the sadistic beings who felt giving a robot intelligence and a personality just to perform menial duties was a good idea. Then there's the voice of the Book, which acts as our narrator and guide through some of the trickier footnotes in galactic history. Peter Jones once claimed that he simply played the voice as if he had no idea what the words meant; Stephen Fry (Douglas Adams' own choice for the role) is widely recognised as one of our nation's cleverest men, so his narration brings a gushing enthusiasm for the passages that helps busy it all along.

Understandably, with just over half the running time of the radio series and TV show, some passages have been cut. What this means is that for those people who are approaching Douglas's universe for the first time, they have so much to look forward to, while there's still enough new material to entertain the seasoned fan (and indeed two of the best lines in the film are new ones).

As someone who's been with the story since its first radio broadcast, it's great to be able to enjoy the whole adventure as if for the first time. If any sceptics remain, all I can suggest is - don't panic.

Jim Sangster

Send us your comment now. We'll publish the best on this page.

Elena Lemonis
I really liked the movie, mostly because the makers sticked to the book as much as possible. Now, I am aware of the fact that a movie can never be as good as a book, especially this kind of book. However, I think the story was excellent and pretty funny, the actors were excellent and Marvin was well designed. Overal, very, very, very funny!!!

Not entirely faultless but very enjoyable. Seemed very rushed at the end however. Fans of the radio plays/ tv series that dont like the big screen adaptation should maybe consider the fact that the medium of cinema is vastly different. Just as the Radio Plays were different from the tv series... Bringing something that has been popularised by cult status and feeding it to the masses was done in this movie to excellent effect. One scene in particular was breathtaking... if you've seen it, then you'll probably know which one I mean.

Sarah J
Saw the movie first - complately mad - inspired me to see the TV series/ read the books/ listen to the radio programme. I prefer the earlier versions because they have more time to develop the jokes and the story. But at least the film has encouraged others to go back to the original material. And at least Trillian's role has been given a bit more ooomph! Lets hope they change the end of "Mostly Harmless" for next Tuesday's broadcast...

Sarah C-B
I am a great fan of the radio series, the books and the TV series; now I'm a total fan of the film too!! at first I wasn't sure as so much had changed, but this isn't really a bad thing, it's just another take on the whole story. I have now seen it a number of times and still think it's excellent! Sam Rockwell's Zaphod Beeblebrox is inspired! (the whole cast are top notch.) The funniest thing in the movie is the Improbability Drive. Totally crazy! The only thing I would say is I wish more had been done regarding Deep Thought. By the way, I heard that Hitchhikers may become a trilogy? If so, will Arthur and Trillian go the distance? What about Fenchurch? (see so long and thanks for all the fish.) we shall have to see. In the meantime, I am keeping an eye out for the DVD release date!

Maria Bond, Dundee
the movie was awful!!!Where do i start? Marvin was completely wrong he looked more like a giant pokemon than a depressed robot! you know its bad when even alan rickman can't save him. Zaphod was completely over the top to the point of annoying, he reminded me of the milky bar kid on some kind of acid trip, and finally what happened to all the jokes that made the books so funny in the first place? words can't express how disappointed i am in this excuse of a film.

Well i thought the movie was excellent.Marty freeman played arthur brilliantly and Zooey Deschanel was a breath of fresh air.Of course it was not faithful to DNA's originals but nonetheless it was great.Can't wait for the sequel.

I was a bit disappointed by the new Marvin - it reminded me too much to Twiggy(?) from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Also, the irony of his "brain the size of a planet" was lost in the size (and shape) of his head. Nice to see the phone number had been updated for the new exchanges/numbers. However, having Zed-Zed-nine plural-Zed alpha prounounced as Zee-Zee-nine plural-Zee alpha really grated. Otherwise a very enjoyable film - including the expected differences: some of the new jokes worked very well.

After seeing the movie, friends and I left thinking "what was the purpose of it?". I have read the novels so did not expect the movie to be any where near the storyline. For my friends however , this was their introduction to Douglas Adams .. and found the movie disappointing. The answer to 42, by the way, is Disappointing.

Well I saw the 'MOVIE' after years of waiting... and after it was over, I felt like Marvin had shot me with the POV gun. "Oh god, I am so depressed!" They took out all the great, classic lines that made hhgttg what it was, very funny! Now it is just not very funny at all, sure I laughed once or twice, but I should have had a smile on my face for the whole film - it was quite the opposite - I was devestated by the changes that they made! I won't go into detail about what made me so unhappy because I would be here for a while, but it was just very disappointing! It visually looked great but the script and the direction was just wrong! And alas the guide was not featured enough, nor was it clever enough! The new radio series on the other hand is pure gold - I really enjoyed the Tertiary Phase and I can't wait for the rest!

Questy - Delaware, USA
With all the reasons being suggested for why not to like this movie, I went to the movie, having seen the BBC series many years ago, hoping not to be disappointed. I was pleasantly surprised how well they pulled it off. A very funny, unique, science fiction movie. While it will not break any box office records, it will carry on as a cult classic for years to come, much like its BBC counterpart.

Tony Clark
I was looking forward to this film, but having seen it can only say, "mostly harmless".

Shawn Costandine, U.S.A.
Horrible movie, took an orignal story for the enlightened and turned it into an unorginal movie for the masses. Hello! It was an internation best seller, I think people would have come regardless!

Martin Leader
Overall 6 out of 10. Well meaning and enough of the original script for the purists. Alan Rickman is perfect for the voice of Marvin but what did he (Marvin) look like? A nod towards the younger audience members perhaps? Very unimaginative compared to the other visualisations in the film. The Vogons....fantastic. Book graphics, simple yes, but a bit 60's? Reminded me of the title sequences of 'Catch me if you can'. All in all a film worth seeing but set your expectations to 'medium'and keep your hand close to the improbability drive button.

The best thing about the film? The fact that i can now mention hitchhikers to people my own age (20) and they know what it is. So long have i been waiting for my chance to shine as a hitchhikers geek. I liked the film as a film - not so great as a hitchhikers one though. Would have been all the better if the used the original artwork for the book from the tv series, but i must admit it was such a good feeling hearing that theme tune in a massive theatre. It was also a great joy to go through spotting all the cameos. I think i would have enjoyed the film so much better if i didn't have some idiot talking through it next to me. He even had the cheek to say "who's douglas?" at the end!

Dave Williams
I was unfortunate to waste �6 on a cinema ticket to have to sit through the first hour of this total drivel. I walked out. Thie movie has to be one of the worst films that has ever been made. Total and utter CRAP!

Martin Cotterell
Quite good - some entertaining new bits - but why make Marvin cuddly like R2D2?? The original depressive Marvin was actually in the film at the end.

Stewart Webb
I was there for the first broadcast on that late night so many years ago.. and I thought then; This is going to be big, really big you won't believe how mind bogglingly big this is going to be... But I never then imagined the film. It is great. I was bitterly disappointed with the TV series but the film will I am sure give the HHG another well deserved boost. So the story has been changed, so Arthur now (at last )gets a love interest with Trillion, which we all thought for all these years is only what he deserves. No matter what film they made it would never be right for the real fans. But in my book this is as near as they will get, great film, great story, Douglas would have been proud I am sure. Go see it, and enjoy.

aaron mcqueen
this movie is so random and is really funny

A Pool
It's a poor version of Hitchhker's, and it's a bad film to boot. They've removed most of Douglas Adams' punchlines, but replaced them with their own, less funny ones. The Magrathean workshop sequence is good, but everything else is played like a bad Hollywood action-comedy. The best thing about it is Zooey Deschanel.

Luke Bannon
I grew up watching the show and reading the books and I must say that this new film did it a great service. The new elements were very amusing and helped enchance the universe, in particular the gun was a very Adams like device. All of the cast did well in their roles and the graphics were great. Over all I would recommend it.

David Mckie
I have followed the Hitchhikers Guide from radio, through a vinyl LP of the Radio Series, the books and the TV show. I was apprehensive at the "new" sections and character I had been hearing about, but was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the film and my 13 year old son enjoyed it as well even though he has only seen one episode of the TV series. The generally young audience laughed at bits I thought they would think too weird and off the wall (I will only say "Oh No, not again!!"). One section of the audience even applauded at the end. I am a fan and I enjoyed it, my son came to it fresh and he enjoyed it. It will appeal to people new to Hitchhikers as it is so different to anything else around. The real purists might be upset, but the script was partly Douglas Adam's own film script and we don't know how much of the "new" stuff he actually wrote anyway. I think I spotted a cameo of the TV Marvin (and the TV series is being re shown on BBC2 starting 3rd May at 11:20pm). Even though one of my favourite exchanges wasn't there ("What's wrong with being drunk?" "Ask a glass of water") I still thought it was great and would happily go again.

Mike E., Texas, USA
The audience I sat with Friday was composed of both loyal fanboys (like me) and a plethora of children and their parents. The film, apparently, had something to delight everyone. It was the most pleasant moviegoing experience I've had in a while, for what its worth. I was quite pleased, and hope Mr. Adams would have been.

Charlie Keeble
The film was wholly remarkable as it said about the book. But not just the first book, all of the books which make it extremly rich in detail and an exciting adventure. I was only lucky to catch the cameos of Simon Jones and Douglas Adams merely by chance that God just doesn't seem infinite after all. The cast were very optimistic about the original radio/TV series that it certainly makes more luaghs than usual, however there were some that didn't make it to the screen. But never do we need to fret because Douglas certainly would of been proud of it generously. To your best friend Douglas, Robbie Stamp delivered your screenplay just as we all hoped for. Don't worry Mr Adams, Arthur and Tillian will probably work out in a undisclosed adventure. Thank You!

Emily from Sussex
I've just finished reading the first of the books, and I can't wait to see how the film, especially Marvin, translates on to the big screen! Reading the book I was scared at how much I resemble Marvin's 'do you want me to fall apart where I'm standing or shall I just sit in a corner and rust?' attitude, and I'm sure Alan Rickman's delivery of, in my opinion, the funniest lines in the book, will be fantastic! I can't wait!

Andy Smith
Very much enjoyed it. The fact that it doesn't slavishly follow the original plot is a plus point - do we really need another version of that (much as I love it)? The plot is reworked to provide a proper conclusion, and the characters (especially Arthur and Trillian) are fleshed out. Most of the best jokes and scenes remain (although the Deep Thought sequences are rather hastily dealt with) and most of the new material is in a similar style, although some of it just doesn't work. The book graphics are very entertaining, and kept suitably simple. There's also a handful of nods to earlier versions, and a very sweet moment right at the end. And despite the Americans among the leads it still feels very British, and very silly. And make sure you sit through the credits!

Nick Williams
I think if you take it as just another re-working of the story which has been the case through all it's incarnations, then it is a good film, that will stand on it's own.If you keep making comparisons you will be disappointed

Antony Tyler
I really enjoyed it. (Again, thanks RT.) The parts that everyone should see are the opening number, (no don't ask, I 've too much already!) and the Magrathea sequence. Very nice. The rest was well worth it as well! Stephen Fry was indeed perfect! Watch it as soon as you can!

Brad P. from the USA
I am eagerly anticipating the release over here. I think I'm really anticipating the new interpretations that were added by Douglas and by the directors. Your review gives me hope. I'm off to grab my towel and bathrobe, and get my tickets.

Justin Hewitt
I was lucky enough to attend a preview screening yesterday (thanks Radio Times!) and I loved it! Having only a passing acquaintance with the TV series, it seemed to get the balance right between the old and new. The Book graphics were a joy (and very different from the TV series) and Stephen Fry was perfect as the voice. It retains a "Britishness" and a Douglas Adams feel. I hope the film does well. Look out for the cameo appearance!



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